Networking: You're Already Doing It!
Networking is about making connections; i.e., interacting with other people to exchange information and develop contacts. If you’ve ever kept in touch with a former teacher or supervisor, gone to a professor’s office hours, talked with a family friend about your major, or made conversation with someone on a plane, you’ve participated in a form of networking. In addition to these interactions, we encourage you to utilize Tufts resources and connections to take a strategic, professional approach.
You can think of networking as a form of research into careers, jobs, graduate school, and internships. Read more about networking in our Networking packet.
Benefits of Networking
Do you feel like you need more information to make a decision about a future career? Nothing gives you a better sense of what a career is like than talking to someone in the field.
Networking can help you to
- Build confidence in communicating professionally
- Explore industries through an insider’s perspective
- Identify important skills and experiences for a particular career
- Develop personal criteria to make choices about careers
- Improve interview skills through professional conversations
- Expand your circle of connections in your field of interest
- Learn about jobs and internships with target employers
- Give back by advising others
You may have heard of some of these myths about networking. Let us put your mind at ease.
|You must be extroverted to network successfully.||Networking often involves one-on-one conversations, rather than large, formal events with many people present. Those opportunities exist as well, but they are not the only form of networking.|
|You need to have connections and I don’t have any.||As a Tufts student, you do have connections. You have Tufts alumni, professors, and fellow students; all of whom have their own personal networks to share.|
|No one will want to meet with me.||People love to talk about themselves and their careers. Tufts alumni volunteer to be part of our Tufts Career Networking Group to network with students and alumni.|
|You should only talk to people at senior levels.||Recent graduates are very familiar with entry-level positions and the interview process. Fellow students also volunteer to share information about internships through our Tufts Internship Profiles (TIP) Book.|
Now that you know more about networking, it’s time to explore the many networking opportunities available to you in person and online. Remember, in all instances you are seeking information, ideas, and referrals, never asking for a job or internship.
Commonly referred to as the “professional Facebook,” LinkedIn is a professional networking site that allows you to identify and connect with potential networking contacts, research companies, and join professional interest groups.
In addition, we offer an extensive LinkedIn Guide available for download.
An informational interview is a networking meeting where you can learn more about a particular career path, industry, job function, or organization. An informational interview can take place in person, on the phone, or via Skype. It can be one of the most valuable ways to network because it can provide you with an intimate, insider’s perspective that other sources cannot replicate.
We host many events on and off campus to help students and alumni network with each other and employers. LinkedIn is an outstanding resource, but it is a supplement to and not a substitute for attending events and networking in person.
- Upcoming Career Center events - view a selection of upcoming events
- Tufts career fairs
- Career Center Calendar - view future Career Center events
- Tufts-Wide Events - check to see if someone of interest is coming Tufts
- Professional organizations - find organizations in your field of interest and check out upcoming events
Elevator Scripts: How to Introduce Yourself
Be ready for planned or surprise networking opportunities by preparing an elevator script, a 30-second statement highlighting a few key facts about you that will generate a conversation with a virtual stranger. A good elevator pitch highlights your skills, qualifications, and professional goals, and allows someone to connect with you over a shared interest or experience.
For example, “I’m a Tufts senior exploring media careers.” This can lead to a discussion about Tufts, your post-graduate plans, and/or your interest in media. You may not recognize this as networking until your contact says, “My best friend works at NPR.” Now, you’re in a position to move the conversation toward NPR and the possibility of a referral for an informational interview.
Once you have found a networking contact, you will want to reach out to start a connection. The most common way to make the first connection with a networking contact is via email. In some circumstances, as with a family friend or former employer, a phone call is appropriate. Follow our tips for crafting emails and preparing for informational interviews.